EAST Lancashire's main bus operator has warned of service cancellations because of a delay in testing its trainee drivers.

Transdev says it has almost 100 waiting for the issue of licences and or confirmation of Public Service Vehicle test dates.

Transdev runs the Blackburn and Burnley Bus Companies, Rosso, Witch Way and the Red Express.

The firm's chief executive Alex Hornby said so far only a relatively small number of journeys it provides across Yorkshire and Lancashire have had to be cancelled.

Customer numbers on Transdev’s routes continue to recover strongly from the pandemic with its buses now carrying 85 per cent of the numbers on board at the same time in 2019.

But Mr Hornby said prospective drivers at its award-winning training facility, The Academy, are currently waiting over three times longer than usual to get their licences and test dates confirmed by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) leading to delays in moving them from the classroom to the road.

He said: “We’re grateful to our colleagues and our customers for their patience with us – we understand entirely how frustrating it is when journeys are cancelled, and it’s the last thing we want to do.

“We’re running a high-profile recruitment campaign highlighting the many benefits we offer to new drivers, including a £1,000 welcome bonus to those already holding a licence.

“Right now, we have 95 new colleagues at The Academy, our in-house driver training facility in Yorkshire and Lancashire.

"They just want to complete their training and be out on the road serving our customers – but instead, they’re waiting over three times longer than usual to get licences and test dates confirmed.

“Now is the time our industry needs help to resolve these delays, so we can deliver services confidently and get more people back on board.

"Most of our buses are running as normal and we are attracting new drivers, so the current delays to licensing and testing are very frustrating.

“At an industry-wide level, we’re asking the government to speed up the provisional licence applications and free up availability of theory and practical tests.

"We are also keen to introduce our own delegated examiner to help process testing."